Magic number at 3 for Washington Nationals with win over Phils

washington nationalsPatrick Corbin picked up his 14th win, and the Washington Nationals put the Philadelphia Phillies on the brink with a 7-2 win Monday night at Nats Park.

The Phils (79-76) are on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from NL wild-card contention, with both the Nationals (86-69) and Milwaukee Brewers (86-70) at the 86-win mark.

That Bryce Harper is in town for the occasion, with Washington and Philadelphia in the midst of a five-game series, including a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday, makes it that much sweeter for Nats fans, who felt spurned when Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract offer from the Nationals to sign a $13-year, $325 million deal with the Phillies.

The verdict on Year 1 of the deal is very much Advantage: Washington, as the Nats front office used the money that would have gone to re-sign Harper to add several important component parts, including Corbin, who signed a six-year, $140 million deal in the offseason.

Corbin (14-7, 3.05 ERA) gave up a run on three hits in six innings, striking out six and walking four.

He was staked to a 1-0 lead on a solo homer by Adam Eaton in the first. Yan Gomes and Trea Turner hit solo shots in the second and third, respectively, and Washington added two more in the fifth, on an Anthony Rendon RBI single and an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI groundout.

The Phils closed to 5-1 in the sixth on a Cesar Hernandez RBI fielder’s choice.

Washington added insurance in the eighth on back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Rendon and Juan Soto, who took four free passes on the night.

The win reduces the magic number for the Nats to clinch a playoff berth to three.

The Nationals have a half-game lead on Milwaukee for home-field in the NL wild-card race. The Chicago Cubs (82-74), idle Monday night after getting swept in a four-game series at Wrigley by St. Louis over the weekend, are four back of the Brewers and four and a half back of Washington, with six games to play.

Milwaukee begins a three-game series at Cincinnati on Tuesday, while the Cubs are on the road at Pittsburgh Tuesday to start a three-game set.

Back to DC: Tuesday’s doubleheader includes a 1:05 p.m. start, for which neither team has announced a starting pitcher.

The second game has a scheduled 7:05 p.m. start. Max Scherzer (10-7, 2.81 ERA) gets the ball for Washington, and will face Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola (12-6, 3.75 ERA).

Story by Chris Graham

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